Pitching In SportsAid Partnership

Through our multi-year strategic partnership with SportsAid, the charity which supports aspiring athletes, and part of our Pitching In investment programme, GVC provides British athletes with financial support, recognition and personal development opportunities. Each athlete receives an annual award which contributes towards costs such as travel, accommodation and equipment. Through the partnership, GVC is helping 50 up-and-coming sports stars across the country each year.

Now continuing into its second year, with 51 further athletes are benefiting from the programme from all over the country. Among those receiving support in 2020 are 10 athletes, five Para athletes, three hockey players, three rowers and three rugby union players as well as many more from other sports including boxing, wheelchair basketball and skiing.

Meet the athletes we are supporting in 2020

Our GVC SportsAid Athletes

Alessandro Schenini

Young long jump star Alessandro Schenini believes the financial support of GVC Holdings and SportsAid could prove the key ingredient in helping him achieve his Olympic ambitions.

The 20-year-old Glaswegian is a recent recipient of the award, with the two bodies having partnered up in a three-year agreement in 2019, aiming to help young athletes across the UK realise their potential.

Injuries, illness and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have provided several obstacles to his progress on the track in 2020.

But the third year mechanical engineering student – studying at the University of Strathclyde – has been hard at work during the lockdown to regain the form that will push him towards next year’s U23 European Championships and World University Games.

And as he bids to gather international experience and eventually secure selection for senior Commonwealth, European, world and Olympic competitions, Schenini insists the funding from the programme will play a crucial role in helping him achieve his dreams.

“The financial implications are huge because it means I can buy the best kit and equipment – including the best spikes – and afford to go off to European competitions and get my name out there on the circuit,” said Schenini, one of 50 beneficiaries of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.

“The ability to travel is going to be huge. Scotland has a lot of good long jumpers but I’m used to competing against the same people, so to go abroad, get out of my comfort zone and come up against new athletes will be really good for me.

“I think experiencing new things and being forced out of my bubble like that could prove the difference in my development, and help me get to where I want to in the sport.”

As well as funding for training, travel and equipment, athletes on the SportsAid programme receive valuable mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

Besides the monetary value of the programme’s support, Schenini is confident the backing of GVC and SportsAid acts as a significant psychological boost, as he looks to add his name to the illustrious list of alumni who have gone on to achieve big things on the world stage.

He said: “It’s a massive confidence boost to know that I’m on the same page as some of the best athletes around my age in Britain and that people have identified me as someone worth backing and supporting.

“It makes you train harder because you want to prove why you deserve their support. It’s also motivating to know that you could be talked about in the same breath as some of those amazing athletes that have been in this very position at a similar point in their careers.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Alessandro Schenini

Young long jump star Alessandro Schenini believes the financial support...

Alex Baker

Pink Addidas rugby boots proved the perfect use of GVC Holdings and SportsAid’s funding for rugby union star Alex Baker.

The 18-year-old plays for Loughborough Lightning and has also got a taste of the bright international lights through England Under-20s, currently brushing shoulders with Red Rose stars Emily Scarratt and Sarah Hunter at her club’s training.

Tyrrells Premier 15s side Lightning wear pink – and fly-half Baker wasted no time in investing in new footwear to match when GVC and SportsAid came calling.

“It’s massively helped – I’ve been able to buy a new pair of pink adidas boots that match the Loughborough Lightning kit!” said Baker, a beneficiary of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative and supported by Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson.

“It will also definitely help with travel, and nutrition – if we do manage to get down to some camps with England Under-20s it will help with petrol money.

“It really does give you an extra drive to know that there’s not just you, but there are other people behind you and supporting you as well.”

GVC announced a three-year partnership with SportsAid last year to help young athletes realise their potential and promote grassroots sport.

The investment will provide funding for training, travel and equipment and allow athletes access to mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

Baker possesses World Cup aspirations for England and hopes the impact of GVC and SportsAid’s support can propel her to the greatest heights of all.

“I hope SportsAid’s funding can help me break into the England setup and achieve my long-term goals,” added Baker, who is following in the footsteps of recent SportsAid athletes Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

“The work that’s being put in now and the support I’m getting will help me be where I want to be in the next few years.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Alex Baker

Pink Addidas rugby boots proved the perfect use of GVC...

Aliyah Zaranyika

Financial support from GVC Holdings and SportsAid could be the key ingredient in helping Aliyah Zaranyika achieve her international netball ambitions, according to the Saracens Mavericks rising star.

The 18-year-old is a recent recipient of the award, with the two bodies having partnered up in a three-year agreement in 2019, aiming to help young athletes across the UK realise their potential.

Zaranyika – who has recently enrolled on a law and politics degree at Royal Holloway University – enjoyed a breakthrough start to 2020, being selected for the England Roses Academy programme in January before making her senior Saracens Mavericks debut weeks later.

And the Enfield-based athlete – who can play either goal defence or wing defence – believes the injection of funding will enable her to remain on track to establish herself in the Superleague, and go on to achieve full international honours.

“I started receiving the funding in April and it’s definitely made a huge difference already,” said Zaranyika, one of 50 beneficiaries of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.

“I’ve been able to buy new trainers, new kit for training and equipment to train at home, so it’s allowed me to stay at the top of my game in the current climate in which there is still a lot of uncertainty because of the impact of coronavirus.

“I wouldn’t have been able to stay at my current level without it, and going forward it’s going to make a massive difference in enabling me to afford things like travel and accommodation, especially now that I’ve moved to university.”

As well as funding for training, travel and equipment, athletes on the SportsAid programme receive valuable mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

And despite being relatively new to the initiative, Zaranyika is confident the wide-ranging benefits of the scheme will stand her in good stead as she ultimately aims to replicate the successes of netball hero Sasha Corbin at the top of the game.

She said: “Besides the financial help, receiving recognition from SportsAid has definitely improved my confidence as an athlete because it shows they have belief in me.

“Some of the people who have received funding before are up there with the biggest names in British sport, so it makes you think that you can go on and do the same.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Aliyah Zaranyika

Financial support from GVC Holdings and SportsAid could be the...

Annabel Carthy

Andrew Nicholson’s insight is catapulting Annabel Carthy’s equestrian career to a new level – but the riding star says that would not have been possible without GVC Holdings and SportsAid’s support.

Wilmslow’s Carthy is currently taking part in an intensive 12-week programme under the former world champion’s auspices in Marlborough, Wiltshire.

Nicholson captured a hat-trick of Olympic medals between 1992 and 2012 and a ‘starstruck’ Carthy admits the opportunity would have never materialised without GVC and SportsAid’s influence.

“I’ve always looked up to Andrew which is why being here is still surreal,” said the 20-year-old, a beneficiary of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.

“I’m still starstruck six weeks in every time I see him – I’m trotting around and he’s on one of his horses and I’m like ‘wow, this is crazy!’

“The funding has enabled me to come here and get the absolute maximum out of the experience – I’ve not got to worry about money, and I can take everything I can from it.”

Supported by Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson, GVC announced a three-year partnership with SportsAid last year to help young athletes realise their potential and promote grassroots sport.

And the investment will provide funding for training, travel and equipment and allow athletes access to mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

Equestrian is a sport where communication is fundamental – and Carthy believes the opportunities enabled by GVC and SportsAid are invaluable in enhancing her skills away from the saddle.

“The interview advice SportsAid provide is really important – I’ve learned some skills to be more confident and think about what I say more,” added Carthy, who is following in the footsteps of current stars Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE in receiving SportsAid support.

“With horses, you have to talk to owners, and if you can talk well to someone about you and your passion it’s going to make them a lot more likely to support you.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Annabel Carthy

Andrew Nicholson’s insight is catapulting Annabel Carthy’s equestrian career to...

Bethany Moule

Javelin starlet Bethany Moule says SportsAid funding has been a vital part of her continued progress as an athlete.

The 18-year-old is a beneficiary of GVC Holdings’ three-year partnership with SportsAid, helping young athletes across the UK realise their potential.

Given the expense of buying and transporting javelin poles across Europe, Moule is beyond grateful for the financial assistance proffered by the partnership.

“Having SportsAid funding there is massively helpful,” said the Neath-born star.

“Javelins cost more than 600 pounds and it’s been a massive help to know that you don’t have to worry about the cost of them.

“I would have struggled if the money hadn’t been there to afford flights and accommodation in the various places I compete in.

“It paid for my hotel when I went to Manchester last month for the British Championships, where I threw a personal best. It’s been so important for me.”

Athletes get funding for training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE

The initiative is part of GVC’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

Moule added: “As well as the money you get a confidence boost as an athlete for knowing that SportsAid are supporting you.

“It gives you an extra bit of belief that you’re doing the right thing and security that they care about how you’re doing.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Bethany Moule

Javelin starlet Bethany Moule says SportsAid funding has been a...

Blake Bowman

Basketball star Blake Bowman says GVC Holdings and SportsAid’s support will make him successful when his days shooting hoops come to an end.

The 18-year-old was crowned MVP in the Elite Academy Basketball League after a thrilling season for Derby Trailblazers, where he scored the second highest number of points in the league’s history.

The sky is the limit for his career but Bowman believes the mentoring SportsAid provide is just as important as the financial investment.

“Let’s say I retire at 32, I still have so much longer of my life to live and it’s not all about basketball,” said Bowman, one of 50 beneficiaries of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.

“Being a well-rounded individual is more important than the sport itself – basketball is going to stop at one point, so I’m going to have to have different skills I can use in life to help me get by.

“That’s all more important than basketball itself – at the end of the day, the ball’s going to stop bouncing.”

Supported by Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson, GVC announced a three-year partnership with SportsAid last year to help young athletes realise their potential and promote grassroots sport.

The investment will provide funding for training, travel and equipment and allow athletes access to mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

In receiving SportsAid support Bowman is following in the footsteps of Sir Mo Farah, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – and Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE more recently – who all treaded the same pathway.

GVC and SportsAid’s support provides a welcome confidence boost for young athletes and Bowman reckons that, coupled his new basketball boots, can take him all the way to the summit.

“The money helped me buy new basketball shoes as they’re quite expensive!” he added.

“And the support really helps me understand that I have quite a bit of responsibility, so it pushes me further to do more and motivates me more.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Blake Bowman

Basketball star Blake Bowman says GVC Holdings and SportsAid’s support...

Callum Hall

Callum Hall believes funding from GVC Holdings and SportsAid will allow him to continue improving as he prepares for his first season on the elite World Marathon Series circuit.

Hall, from Leeds, is one of 50 beneficiaries of the three-year partnership which helps cover the costs of training, travel and equipment – which can be particularly costly in wheelchair racing.

“I don’t think many people realise how much that funding helps,” Hall said.

“An equipment-based sport is expensive, especially when the chairs are specialist. The money really helps towards the equipment and the maintenance. It’s an expensive sport so the funding really does make a difference.

“On top of that, you have international travel costs – if you are racing on the far side of Asia, for example, it comes in very useful.”

The initiative, part of GVC’s Pitching In, was launched in 2019 with the support of a British wheelchair racing legend, Baroness Grey-Thompson.

And Hall, who was paralysed as a result of an abscess on the spine caused by stepping on a sea urchin while on holiday in 2012, has seen the benefit of SportsAid funding particularly close to home.

“My wife (Paralympian and 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jade Jones-Hall) has come through similar programmes so I understand how it does help,” he said.

“It gives you hope for years down the line. When they benefit specific athletes you look up to, you realise how good the schemes are.”

One of those athletes is David Weir, another member of the glittering SportsAid alumni who became an icon with his performances at London 2012.

“To win three track events and the marathon is insane – the guy is a machine,” Hall said.

“I race him on the road and he’s a nice guy who is happy to give tips. He’s a great advocate for the sport.”

An excellent 2019, including a fourth-placed finish at the Paris Marathon and a 1:32:49 personal best in Seoul, helped Hall win the right to represent Great Britain at the World Marathon Majors.

He begins his journey as part of the elite circuit at the London Marathon on October 4 and the former Leeds City Athletics Club member is relishing the chance to return to competitive action.

“It’s a great opportunity to try and keep up with 15 of the best in the world,” Hall said.

“I’ll give it my best shot and see what happens – it’s a chance to race again so I’m looking forward to it.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Callum Hall

Callum Hall believes funding from GVC Holdings and SportsAid will...

Charlie Dobson

Great Britain sprinting prospect Charlie Dobson is looking forward to his second year of support from GVC Holdings and SportsAid having felt the benefit of being part of the inaugural intake.

The three-year partnership, which helps young athletes across the UK fulfil their potential, was launched in 2019 with the support of Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson.

The initiative provides funding for training and travel, which Dobson has able to take advantage of.

“It has really helped me a lot,” said the 20-year-old, who hails from Colchester.

“It covered quite a lot of my warm weather training when I went to Portugal last year.

“It allowed me to go out with my group and get a really good couple of weeks of training in.”

The programme is part of GVC’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment to support and promote grassroots sport, and will allow athletes to access mentoring from Olympians and Paralympians on topics including nutrition – the importance of which is apparent to Dobson.

“This year I’ll be using the funding for food, too,” he said.

“Eating healthily can be quite expensive so I’ll use it for that and save a bit for the next warm weather training, whenever we can go.”

Dobson is currently studying Aeronautical Engineering at Loughborough University, for whom he was representing when he set a new BUCS Championships record of 6.64 seconds in the indoor 60m in February.

Lockdown put paid to the majority of the outdoor season but Dobson was able to compete in competitions towards the end of the summer and shone in his first ever 400m, recording the second fastest time in the country this year.

“I am now targeting Olympic relay teams in the 4x400m – my time would have put me fourth last year,” he said.

“It is a nice position to be in – having 60m for indoors and 200m and 400m for outdoors.”

Dobson cited Super Saturday at the London 2012 Olympics as his inspiration for kicking on with athletics and Team GB’s three gold medal winners on that famous evening – Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Greg Rutherford MBE and Sir Mo Farah – each benefited from SportsAid support on their respective journeys.

“It’s pretty cool to be a part of that,” said Dobson, who won silver in the 200m at the 2018 Under-20 World Championships.

“SportsAid have helped a lot of quality athletes and they help with the transition from juniors to seniors really well.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Charlie Dobson

Great Britain sprinting prospect Charlie Dobson is looking forward to...

Charlotte Williams

Having moved away from home for the first time, athletics star Charlotte Williams believes the financial support of GVC Holdings and SportsAid could be the key ingredient in helping her achieving her Olympic ambitions.

The 19-year-old hammer thrower is a recent recipient of the award, with the two bodies having partnered up in a three-year agreement in 2019, aiming to help young athletes across the UK realise their potential.

Williams recently enrolled on a kinesiology degree at the University of Georgia in the United States, approximately 4,000 miles from her mum and dad, and hometown, Clitheroe.

And while the former Burnley College student is confident she now has access to the coaching and facilities to help her get to the top, she insists the scheme’s monetary boost will play a key part in her attempt to eventually emulate fellow Brit Sophie Hitchon, who won bronze at the 2016 Rio Games.

“As I’m getting older, it’s nice to not have to rely on my parents to have to pay for everything all the time,” said Williams, one of 50 beneficiaries of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.

“It’s up to us to pay for all the little competitions we go to every weekend, all of the accommodation that comes with that and all of the equipment as well, so the extra funding is absolutely vital.

“Even just ensuring that my hammer is fully intact can make such a huge difference, so I’m really grateful to be part of the SportsAid programme and I think it’s going to play a huge part in my progression in the sport.”

As well as funding for training, travel and equipment, athletes on the SportsAid programme receive valuable mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

Williams said: “Being recognised by the likes of SportsAid and GVC is huge for athletes like me from a mental point of you as well, because it means someone has identified you as having potential and are worth backing, which is really motivating.

“When you mention SportsAid people instantly know what you’re talking about and some of the great names they’ve helped. That also pushes you forward and is a big inspiration for me to try and achieve some of the things those guys before me have done.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Charlotte Williams

Having moved away from home for the first time, athletics...

Cheyanne Evans-Gray

Cheyanne Evans-Gray is delighted to be “mingling with the next set of greats” through her place on a SportsAid and GVC Holdings initiative which helps young athletes achieve their potential.

Evans-Gray, a 22-year-old sprinter from Croydon, is part of the latest cohort of 50 sportspeople who will receive funding to help cover training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

And the Olympic hopeful has already felt the benefit of being part of the programme.

“I was having lower back pains recently and the funding has allowed me to see a chiropractor, who is really helping me fix my posture,” she said.

“Those corrections will help my running, and the money is also going towards physio, supplements I need and kit.”

Team GB stars such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and Sir Mo Farah are among the stellar cast of names to have received SportsAid support in the past – along with one of Evans-Gray’s role models.

“I remember watching Dina Asher-Smith in Rio, which was amazing,” Evans-Gray said.

“For her to get to an Olympic final and perform so well was really inspiring and a game-changer for British sprinting.

“It’s a bit surreal seeing my name there (on SportsAid’s alumni) but it’s a special feeling. It feels like I’m mingling among the next set of greats.”

The initiative is part of multi-million-pound grassroots sport investment programme Pitching In, established by GVC – where Evans-Gray has a unique day-to-day insight.

“I am a customer service manager at Ladbrokes in Croydon,” explained Evans-Gray, who juggles her work and training commitments with studying Sports Science at the University of East London.

“It keeps me close to all the sports and I love dealing with the customers and having conversations with them.”

Evans-Gray returned to athletics aged 20, having taken several breaks from sprinting growing up, and broke a 13-year British Universities and Colleges Sports (BUCS) record in February when she stormed to indoor 60m victory in 7.28 seconds.

The coronavirus pandemic denied her the opportunity to build on that performance in the outdoor season but Evans-Gray has not let that dent her ambitions.

“Every athlete’s ultimate goal is to be the best at Olympic level,” she said.

“I would love to go and compete in the Olympics and get on the podium.

“A bit more short-term, I’m looking to compete in the World Championships in 2022. That would be my first big event and I feel I have the potential to get there.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Cheyanne Evans-Gray

Cheyanne Evans-Gray is delighted to be “mingling with the next...

Chukwuemeka Osanmor

Discus hot prospect Chukwuemeka Osanmor says funding through SportsAid’s partnership with GVC Holdings helped him realise that people do care about his discipline.

The 19-year-old is a beneficiary of GVC’s three-year partnership with SportsAid, helping young athletes across the UK realise their potential.

When lockdown was imposed, Osanmor used his SportsAid grant to source home workout equipment to help maintain his strength, so vital for an emerging thrower.

“It’s very inspiring to know that people are watching,” said the City of Sheffield & Dearne AC athlete.

“I remember thinking there wasn’t that much attention around discus but having SportsAid backing me reminds me that people do have the best intentions for you.

“I’ve grown in confidence in the last few years as I’ve progressed and having the backing of SportsAid has played a big role in that.”

Athletes get funding for training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE

The initiative is part of GVC’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

“The money helped me a lot to be able to afford weights and equipment during lockdown,” Osanmor said.

“Lockdown was a tough time but being able to do my work and stay in good physical shape helped me deal with it mentally.

“As a thrower you need to have presence and personality and I’m growing in belief all the time.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Chukwuemeka Osanmor

Discus hot prospect Chukwuemeka Osanmor says funding through SportsAid’s partnership...

Courtney Cox

Courtney Cox admits she will never forget the email that told her she would benefit from GVC Holdings and SportsAid’s support.

Cox, who hails from Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, reached the zenith of her boxing career in 2018 when she won the 54kg Youth European Championships in Russia.

She’s also scooped a treble of national titles and the young queen of the ring, 18, believes GVC and SportsAid’s funding has catalysed her rise to the top.

“I remember my first email form SportsAid letting me know I had been put forward for an award, and it’s just something that will never be forgotten,” said the 18-year-old, one of 50 athletes financially supported by a three-year partnership between GVC Holdings and SportsAid as part of GVC’s Pitching In initiative.

“It’s unbelievable to be recognised for the hard work, time and effort us boxers put into our days to fulfil our dreams.

“Thanks to SportsAid, the stress of fuel for my car was lifted, along with money needed for the gym and to buy equipment.

“I would never have been able to have any of this without the help, so I’m very lucky and grateful.”

Supported by Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson, GVC announced a three-year partnership with SportsAid in 2019 to help young athletes realise their potential and promote grassroots sport.

The investment will provide funding for training, travel and equipment and allow athletes access to mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

Cox has recently joined Lambton Street Boxing Club in the north-east and is confident the wide-ranging impact of SportsAid and GVC funding will accelerate her progression.

“SportsAid has helped me drastically – physically, mentally and financially,” added Cox, who is treading the same SportsAid pathway as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah and Dina Asher-Smith.

“It’s great support for any boxer working their way up the ladder, especially those from less fortunate backgrounds.

“I don’t believe there’s much more SportsAid could do to help us growing athletes.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Courtney Cox

Courtney Cox admits she will never forget the email that...

Craig Allen

Leon Taylor’s Zoom classes and elite athletes’ insight is what makes GVC Holdings and SportsAid’s support so special, says para table-tennis star Craig Allen.

The Bromsgrove-based player has soared to international success in his Class 9 category and is targeting a memorable hometown Commonwealth Games appearance in Birmingham in 2022.

That ambition will be fuelled by GVC and SportsAid’s funding and while the financial side of their investment is critical, it’s the wider benefits of the initiative that Allen has relished.

“The work SportsAid did over lockdown was helpful – even though there was no sport going on they still provided me with structure,” said the 25-year-old, a beneficiary of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.

“They put on interviews with Leon Taylor and other high-profile athletes in sport.

“They were helpful – some of them have been through long-term injuries, similarly to being in lockdown, so they could share those experiences with us and we could make the most out of that.”

Supported by Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson, GVC announced a three-year partnership with SportsAid last year to help young athletes realise their potential and promote grassroots sport.

The investment will provide funding for training, travel and equipment and allow athletes access to mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians, as Allen follows in the footsteps of Paralympic stars Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE in receiving SportsAid support.

Allen says that association is special and is confident GVC and SportsAid can propel him all the way to Birmingham 2022.

“It’s incredible to follow in the footsteps, and an honour, to be in a group with those people and to have gone through the same system,” he added.

“You see people who have gone through that system and what they’ve achieved off the back of it – and it makes you aware of what you can possibly achieve as well.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Craig Allen

Leon Taylor’s Zoom classes and elite athletes’ insight is what...

Danielle Marshall

Rising boxing star Danielle Marshall says SportsAid funding has been crucial in helping her progress through the youth ranks.

The 18-year-old is a beneficiary of GVC’s three-year partnership with SportsAid, helping young athletes across the UK realise their potential.

Athletes get funding for training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

Marshall, who was crowned English champion in the under 69kg weight category in March, says the funding is a godsend and helps her travel to London for training camps.

“The funding through SportsAid has been a massive help,” said the Hartlepool-born star.

“A lot of training camps are down south and travel and accommodation are expensive, so it just takes the worry out of that and allows me to focus on boxing.

“It makes me feel at ease and the support they give is invaluable.”

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

The initiative is part of GVC’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

Marshall dreams of competing at the Olympics one day and following in the footsteps of her heroes Nicola Adams and Katie Taylor, with SportsAid with her all the way.

“I remember watching Nicola in 2012 and being inspired to follow her to the Olympic Games,” she said.

“Having SportsAid behind me makes me believe that it’s possible and there are people out there willing me to achieve my goals.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Danielle Marshall

Rising boxing star Danielle Marshall says SportsAid funding has been...

Eleanor Piper

Rising archery star Eleanor Piper says SportsAid funding has literally got her moving again this year and helped her afford to buy a car.

The 18-year-old is a beneficiary of GVC Holdings’ three-year partnership with SportsAid, helping young athletes across the UK realise their potential.

Athletes get funding for training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

Piper has been receiving SportsAid funding for a number of years and she has put her grant towards buying a car, making travel to and from training all the more seamless.

“SportsAid’s been amazing, it’s been a lifesaver for my family,” said the Woking-born youngster.

“It’s been brilliant for me to able to have a car this year and made the journey from work to the training centre so much better.

“It’s hard to imagine what this year would have looked like for me without my car and without SportsAid funding.”

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

The initiative is part of GVC’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

Piper has trained and competed with sister Louisa, 17, for the entirety of their careers and SportsAid has helped their family deal with the cost of two elite-level competitors.

“The cost of putting two people through the sport is very high,” said Piper.

“SportsAid have always been there for us and they’ve made it so much easier to manage the cost of travelling and staying at international competitions.

“It’s paid off in that we’ve won a few cadet medals together internationally and that’s thanks to SportsAid’s help.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Eleanor Piper

Rising archery star Eleanor Piper says SportsAid funding has literally...

Ellie Keers

A new boat is far from a cheap buy but Wimbledon sailor Ellie Keers isn’t going it alone thanks to financial support from GVC Holdings and SportsAid.

The 18-year-old is a beneficiary of GVC’s three-year partnership with the sports charity, helping young talent across the UK realise their potential.

Athletes get funding for training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

Keers’ summer programme was wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic but time was still well spent both on and off the water.

“The funding and support has been really good, it was really helpful and made a massive difference in buying a new boat,” she said.

“A new boat isn’t cheap, it cost a few thousand pounds and then you have to get things attached to it as well, so it costs a lot!

“The support was really helpful as well, it brings a lot of confidence knowing that people are backing us to do well and can see talent in us.

“I’ll be moving down to Southampton for university in a few weeks as well so the support will certainly be a big help during then as well.”

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

The initiative is part of GVC’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

And there’s no time like the present for Keers to receive much-needed support, with this summer heralding a new era for the teenager.

“We moved out of our youth class boat this summer and moved into the 49erFX, which is an Olympic class boat,” she added.

“All the events in our other class were cancelled so we were able to get a head-start on our training.

“It was quite a bit step up, lots of it was so different from what we were used to so it does take some time to adjust to it.

“We didn’t know much about it so it was a big learning curve for us with everything that we did.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Ellie Keers

A new boat is far from a cheap buy but...

Emily Bale

Emily Bale shredded 13kg in lockdown and says GVC Holdings and SportsAid’s support will help her afford a resized shooting kit.

The Barnstaple star finished third in an Air Rifle Mixed Team event in Serbia alongside her brother, Dean, last year but used the break from sport to revolutionise her fitness levels – and physique.

That’s led to Bale requiring size alterations on her expensive shooting kit – and she reckons GVC and SportsAid’s assistance will ease the financial strain.

“My kit literally doesn’t fit!” said the 21-year-old, one of 50 athletes financially supported by a three-year partnership between GVC Holdings and SportsAid as part of GVC’s Pitching In initiative.

“Shooting kit is super expensive because it’s customised to your body – and can cost between £1,300 to £2,000 just for one set.

“I’m hoping to get my current kit altered but it’s going to be a lot of work, but SportsAid support will help me fund those alterations.

“And, in the long-term, I can then buy some new kit with SportsAid support.

“I’ve managed to drop my heart rate, which will help with shooting – we turned one of our bedrooms into a mini-gym, and I feel better physically and mentally.

“I’ve got my confidence back and I’m healthier in general.”

Supported by Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson, GVC announced a three-year partnership with SportsAid in 2019 to help young athletes realise their potential and promote grassroots sport.

The investment will provide funding for training, travel and equipment and allow athletes access to mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

GVC – owner of Ladbrokes and Coral – and SportsAid’s funding came in at the beginning of lockdown and Bale also admits their support provided a welcome psychological boost.

“SportsAid’s funding was a really good reassurance for me,” added Bale, who is treading the same SportsAid pathway as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah and Dina Asher-Smith.

“It showed me they still believe in me and want to help – it felt like they hadn’t given up on me, so that was wonderful.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Emily Bale

Emily Bale shredded 13kg in lockdown and says GVC Holdings...

Eve Walsh-Dann

Bangor’s Eve Walsh-Dann insists the financial support of GVC Holdings and SportsAid is a crucial component in ensuring she maximises her development all the way towards para athletics’ main stage.

The 18-year-old won T35-T38 100m and 200m gold medals at the World Para Athletics Junior Championships in 2017, and is targeting spots at both the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and the 2024 Paralympics.

But with a limited field of para athletes in Northern Ireland, Walsh-Dann explains that regular travel to England is crucial in order to measure her continual progress, by racing against other competitors in the same classification.

And with the pressure of travel costs – for training and competition all over the world – eased by the programme’s funding, Walsh-Dann believes she has been afforded the best chance of achieving her dreams.

“Competing against other para athletes is the only way you can really gauge your own development, which means travelling to cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester throughout the year,” said Walsh-Dann, one of 50 beneficiaries of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.

“I wouldn’t be able to do that without the support of GVC and SportsAid, and once the lockdown restrictions are eased even further I’ll be able to travel more and more.

“The money also allows me to equip myself with the best kit available, so I’ve got the best chance of getting to the levels I want to get to – representing Northern Ireland and Great Britain on the highest stage.”

As well as funding for training, travel and equipment, athletes on the SportsAid programme receive valuable mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

Walsh-Dann remembers the precise moment she found out she had been selected for GVC and SportsAid funding, and believes there are a wide range of psychological benefits associated with the programme too, on top of the monetary support.

She said: “I was out training in the garden with my coach on Zoom when my dad came and told me I’d been selected for the scheme. I couldn’t believe it!

“It means a lot to know that there are people outside my personal bubble that have invested in me and want to try and help me achieve success in the future.

“It’s amazing to be on the same pathway as some of the biggest names in British sport. I really want to add my name to that list and hopefully I can inspire other young people like myself, in the future.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Eve Walsh-Dann

Bangor’s Eve Walsh-Dann insists the financial support of GVC Holdings...

Felix Klein

Chichester skier Felix Klein insists a life in elite sport wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the support of SportsAid and GVC Holdings.

The New Zealand-born athlete is a beneficiary of GVC’s three-year partnership with the sports charity, helping young talent across the UK realise their potential.

Athletes get funding for training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

And Klein is acutely aware at just how vital the financial and personal support can be, with natural ski resorts few and far between in the United Kingdom.

“The support from GVC and SportsAid makes my career possible,” said the 20-year-old, who was also part of the programme 12 months ago.

“Skiing is one of the most expensive sports you could partake in.

“My family are not rich, and skiing has always been a big financial sacrifice that we make, as my brother does it as well.

“When there are two of you, you can rinse the bank account pretty quickly, so the funding and general support really makes it possible.

“It shows that it’s not just your parents who are giving you that backing. You’ve got someone who hasn’t met you before but has seen your talents on a piece of paper, they’re giving you their support and it’s very reassuring.”

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

The initiative is part of GVC’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

Now Klein is looking to make the most of his part in the programme, already earmarking what his funding can go towards when the ski season returns following the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’d look to try and put the funding towards ski passes,” he added. “By the time you’ve bought flights, transport and accommodation, the cost really adds up – it’s essentially having to pay for a lot of holidays.

“That support helps take the pressure off and allows me to compete in the extra events or training sessions that I may not have otherwise done.

“I’m not coming down from a mountain and worrying how I’m getting home!

“I was supported by GVC and SportsAid last year and it benefited me a huge amount so I’m looking forward to more of the same this year.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Felix Klein

Chichester skier Felix Klein insists a life in elite sport...

George Barber

George Barber says GVC Holdings and SportsAid’s support helped him navigate his way through lockdown.

The swimming star currently competes for the City of Sheffield Swim Squad while studying at Sheffield Hallam University and has experience in both open water and in the pool.

Barber is a recent recipient of a SportsAid award and reckons the opportunities the charity have provided can take him all the way to the top.

“I’ve been on different Zoom call meetings with professional athletes and professionals in their field like psychologists – and that’s really helped,” said the 19-year-old, a beneficiary of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.

“It keeps you interested in sport and keeps you motivated to want to get better during a tough time – it lifts your spirits up so I’ve been really appreciative of everything they’ve given me.

“You wouldn’t believe how much it helps – to get tips from the best athletes is amazing, and people have obviously gone through the pathway before.

“It shows it works and you can come out in the future and progress to a really good standard.”

Supported by Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson, GVC announced a three-year partnership with SportsAid last year to help young athletes realise their potential and promote grassroots sport.

The investment will provide funding for training, travel and equipment and allow athletes access to mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

And in receiving SportsAid support Barber is following in the footsteps of fellow swimmers Adam Peaty MBE and Ellie Simmonds OBE, who both treaded the same pathway with the charity.

So, how will Barber spend some of GVC and SportsAid’s money? On a top of the range new race suit, of course.

“The money is an unreal help, especially with all the extra costs that come with swimming,” he added.

“Race suits cost a ridiculous amount of money and can be £200 each, so the funding really, really helps!”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

George Barber

George Barber says GVC Holdings and SportsAid’s support helped him...

Georgia Holt

Funding from GVC Holdings and SportsAid is helping cycling prospect Georgia Holt as she balances her Olympic dreams with studying for a degree.

Holt, 20, is entering the final year of a Biomedical Sciences degree at Manchester Metropolitan University and admitted juggling the two can be difficult.

“Sometimes, when there’s a two-hour lecture on something quite difficult like genetics, I then go to training with my brain already frazzled,” she said.

“The mental toll of it takes it out your legs quite a lot, which I never expected it to.

“But it’s doable and in many ways it’s a blessing as it gives me another focus – the two give each other a break.

“I’m a scholar with the Uni and the support from GVC is really helpful as I’m not on the squad yet so don’t get the funding – and a student loan doesn’t stretch that far.”

The three-year programme was Launched in 2019 with the support of Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson, GVC’s three-year partnership with SportsAid and helps young athletes across the UK each year realise their potential.

And Holt, a former Eventer who only began cycling competitively aged 18 following the results from a Talent ID day, has already seen the benefits over lockdown as she prepares for her Great Britain trials in October.

“The funding has already helped me with bits of equipment,” she said.

“If things like my road bike handlebars or tape need changing, I can use my funding for that.

“It is also a great help for nutrition and track time, which is £10-15 a session, so with three sessions a week that can add up. It’s little things that I can say ‘that’s not coming out the student loan’ and can budget elsewhere, which really eases any stress.”

Hopeful of competitions resuming in the foreseeable future, Holt is now looking to follow in the footsteps of some of British cycling’s household names who have also benefitted from SportsAid support.

“I was reading through the SportsAid alumni and thought ‘oh my goodness’. It’s just madness,” she said.

“I really look up to Victoria Pendleton. One of the British Cycling staff once said I remined them of her – she’s my idol so that was amazing to hear.

“I cried when I saw Jason Kenny for the first time. I was so overwhelmed, he’s like a Greek God – but then you speak to him and he’s so down to earth.

“I want to replicate what they have done – ultimately, my goal is to be a triple world and Olympic champion.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Georgia Holt

Funding from GVC Holdings and SportsAid is helping cycling prospect...

Hannah Kelly

Juggling a law degree with a career in athletics has been made much easier for Bury’s Hannah Kelly thanks to financial support from GVC Holdings and SportsAid.

The 19-year-old is a beneficiary of GVC’s three-year partnership with the sports charity, helping young talent across the UK realise their potential.

Athletes get funding for training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

And for Kelly, having both the support and funding for her future endeavours has been a major boost in a tricky year off the track.

“It means so much, to have people believing in me and seeing potential in me to achieve, it gives you such a confidence boost,” she said.

“To have a company behind me giving me that support means a lot to me.

“It gives you loads of confidence, being noticed and being thought of as having potential.

“There’s a lot of travel involved, it takes an hour on public transport to get to the group that I’m training with and that can add up quite quickly.

“Funding can go a long way. There’s hidden costs in track membership, gym membership, kit and equipment so it will be invaluable.”

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

The initiative is part of GVC’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

And it’s Asher-Smith who 200m runner Kelly holds in such high esteem.

She added: “Dina has always been a role model, someone to look up to, and for her to be from the same country is always really inspiring.

“To see where she came from and where she is now is amazing and it’d be so great to be on the same team as her one day or to follow in her footsteps.

“There is a really strong British team now. The relay teams have that medal potential and t always motivates you to do well when you’re seeing other people who were once in your shoes going out there and winning medals.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Hannah Kelly

Juggling a law degree with a career in athletics has...

Holly Manders

Women’s football is on the rise in England and Teesside midfielder Holly Manders is hoping to join the fun thanks to financial support from GVC Holdings and SportsAid.

Manders is a beneficiary of GVC’s three-year partnership with the sports charity, helping young talent across the UK realise their potential.

Athletes get funding for training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

Manders will ply her trade with Sunderland this season, with the FA Women’s Premier League team situated two divisions below the world’s best in the Super League.

The teenager will be hopeful of joining the top stars in the years to come, with her cause supported by her place on the GVC and SportsAid programme.

“The funding and support means a lot. I’m a student at university from a financial point of view, it means the world,” she said.

“It goes towards a lot of things. Coming down from the north, there can be a lot of travel expenses that build up so it’s a real boost for things like that.

“We do a lot of camps and training experiences so the funding can make a real difference. Those experiences make me a better player and it’s reassuring knowing that I don’t have to worry about them.

“It gives me a lot of confidence. I’ve believed in me but it’s nice knowing that other people are putting their faith in you and believe that you can achieve.”

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

The initiative is part of GVC’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

“I’ve been part of the England age group squads for a few years, which is really good,” Manders added. “I’ve been around lots of talented players and that’s been a really big part of my progression.

“I was the only person from the north so it was a great learning experience. I was playing with and against people from Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City so I was really able to learn a lot from that.

“I just want to keep progressing through the age groups and hopefully that will lead me to the first team.

“Doing that would mean everything to me, reaching the England team is what you dream of and it’s hard to describe how nice a feeling that would be.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Holly Manders

Women’s football is on the rise in England and Teesside...

James Hamilton

Paralympic hopeful James Hamilton hopes his SportsAid funding will enable him to continue building experience as he looks to fulfil his ambition of competing in Tokyo next summer.

Hamilton, who competes in 800m and 1500m in the T20 category, is among the beneficiaries of a three-year partnership between GVC and SportsAid which is part of GVC’s Pitching In programme.

Launched in 2019 with the support of Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson, the initiative helps young athletes fulfil their potential by helping cover the costs of training, travel and equipment.

This has already proved useful for Hamilton, who is looking forward to the resumption of competitions when possible.

“I can use the money for buying new spikes or road shoes, which is really helpful,” said the 27-year-old, who hails from Doagh, near Ballyclare.

“It also helps with the cost of travelling and accommodation when I go to England for races.”

Hamilton previously represented Ireland at swimming but has been focused on running since 2014 and can count himself among some elite names who have also received SportsAid support, including Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and Adam Peaty MBE – as well as a particular hero of Hamilton’s.

“Sir Mo Farah is the big one I look up to, what he’s done is pretty special,” he said.

“It’s cool to have your name recognised like this. I like inspiring the younger age groups and they look up to me, so it feels good to be up there.”

Having recovered from a hip injury sustained during lockdown, Hamilton is back into his routine of training three times a week at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast with former Northern Ireland international runner Mark Kirk.

He also remains a member of Ballymena Runners and put his home village of Doagh on the map when he reached the final of the 800m and 1500m in the Para-Athletics World Championships in London in 2017.

Hamilton finished sixth in both and is eager to sample another taste of international action in Tokyo next summer.

“I am very inspired by hoping to reach the Paralympics, which is my main goal for next year,” he said.

“Seeing other people perform well has pushed me to keep going.

“If I got there, it would mean the whole world. You can’t go any further than the Paralympics, so it would be a big achievement.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

James Hamilton

Paralympic hopeful James Hamilton hopes his SportsAid funding will enable...

Joel Clarke-Khan

Joel Clarke-Khan admits he would not have been crowned British champion without GVC Holdings and SportsAid’s support.

The Worcester-based high jump star reigned supreme at the British Athletics Championships after leaping over the bar at 2.18m in Manchester.

Clarke-Khan entered the event in a positive frame of mind and reckons the financial assistance of GVC and SportsAid lay at the heart of that mentality.

“I was in such a good mental state because I was so relaxed because everything went smoothly financially,” said the 20-year-old, one of 50 beneficiaries of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.

“If I didn’t have SportsAid funding I’d worry about how I’m going to fund my pre-competition massage, travel, hotel, eating, and literally everything.

“I could have turned up with a stressed mind, but having SportsAid to help with opportunities was a blessing and really puts me in a better place.”

Supported by Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson, GVC announced a three-year partnership with SportsAid last year to help young athletes realise their potential and promote grassroots sport.

The investment will provide funding for training, travel and equipment and allow athletes access to mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

Clarke-Khan has been through the wringer in recent years, rupturing his patella tendon in 2018 and enduring a difficult period on the busy athletics circuit.

He doubted if SportsAid or GVC would come back calling but says their continued support has provided an invaluable source of confidence.

“Coming back from a quiet year last year, I wasn’t sure if SportsAid were going to be in contact but when I found out there were, I realise they haven’t lost hope in me yet,” added Clarke-Khan, who is treading the same SportsAid pathway as fellow athletes Sir Mo Farah, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and Dina Asher-Smith.

“It’s nice to know they still believe in me, and I was able to prove to them that I’m worth believing in.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Joel Clarke-Khan

Joel Clarke-Khan admits he would not have been crowned British...

Joel Thompson

Brighton swimmer Joel Thompson insists the financial support of GVC Holdings and SportsAid helped ease the mental toll of this year’s lockdown, as he continues in his bid to compete at next summer’s Olympic Games.

The 19-year-old is a recent recipient of the award, with the two bodies having partnered up in a three-year agreement in 2019, aiming to help young athletes across the UK realise their potential.

Having reached the semi-finals of the 200m IM at last year’s European Junior Championships, Thompson was preparing himself for the Olympic trials before the coronavirus epidemic iced the majority of 2020 competition, and delayed his Tokyo Olympics dream for at least another 12 months.

While the funding will help Thompson equip himself with the tools to perform at the top level going forward – having left home to enrol on a mass communication degree at Louisiana State University – the former Ellesmere College student explains the support enabled him to stay mentally and physically fit during the break.

“The backing from GVC and SportsAid is amazing, especially during uncertain times like we’ve had over the course of this year,” said Thompson, one of 50 beneficiaries of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.

“When some of the restrictions were lifted I was able to go on a training camp to Malta, which helped me massively mentally. None of the pools were open in England, and I was finding it really tough trying to go running and do things out of the water.

“The funding has also been a big help in terms of allowing me to buy equipment I’ve never had before, and I feel in a really strong position to keep progressing and go on and achieve what I want in the sport now.”

As well as funding for training, travel and equipment, athletes on the SportsAid programme receive valuable mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

Thompson added: “Knowing that there are people out there who have identified you as someone worth backing is a big confidence boost, and it really does motivate you to kick on in training and in competitions.

“I’ve had the chance to network with some of the other athletes on the scheme this summer on Zoom, and while it’s been great to learn off of all of them, I really do feel like part of a family now because everyone wants to help each other.

“It’s a special feeling knowing some of the most famous British sporting stars were once in the same position that I’m in now. That gives you belief that you can replicate their success and that anything’s possible.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Joel Thompson

Brighton swimmer Joel Thompson insists the financial support of GVC...

Katie Jones

Hockey starlet Katie Jones believes her new funding and support from GVC and SportsAid is a timely boost to her confidence amidst a tricky year.

The talented teenager is a beneficiary of GVC’s three-year partnership with the sports charity, helping young talent across the UK realise their potential.

Athletes get funding for training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

Time on the pitch has been limited this year due to the coronavirus pandemic but Jones is looking to hit the ground running when the return finally comes.

“It’s really nice to have the support, I wasn’t expecting GVC and SportsAid to reach out to me so it came as a pleasant surprise,” she said.

“Because my parents take me everywhere, it gives me a chance to give back to them having relied on them to take me to training and matches for such a long time.

“Travelling to games takes a lot more expense than you think so I’m grateful to have that support to help fund those.

“Kit costs can add up as well so it’s nice not to rely on my parents as much. I can give a bit back.

“It’s nice to know that people do think I can potentially reach the top, it’s really nice to know and gives me a lot of confidence in my career, especially while we haven’t had much chance to show what we can do recently.”

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

The initiative is part of GVC’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

And for Jones, this is just the latest step on a hockey journey that has already seen her represent her country on the pitch.

She added: “I first got into hockey when I was 9 or 10. My sister plays as well and I first got into it that way, for the past eight or nine years.

“It was nice to be part of a team. I struggled a little bit in individual sports so hockey was a good one, and I preferred it a lot more than football.

“Last year I was with the England U18s, which was really good, playing with lots of people who have the same attitude towards hockey that you do is really nice feeling, you get so much out of it and I was able to learn a lot from the experience.

“You get to play some top teams such as Holland, which is already a huge learning experience.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Katie Jones

Hockey starlet Katie Jones believes her new funding and support...

Kirsty Taylor

Para-Athletics star Kirsty Taylor believes the financial support of GVC Holdings and SportsAid could be the key ingredient in allowing her to reach her full potential.

The 20-year-old – from Caldicot – is a recent recipient of the award, with the two bodies having partnered up in a three-year agreement in 2019, aiming to help young athletes across the UK realise their potential.

Having captained the GB team at the 2019 World Para Athletics Junior Championships – where she won silver medals in both the T42-64 100m and 200m events – and gone on to feature at the Anniversary Games and this year’s British Championships, Taylor is already targeting next summer’s rearranged European Championships as the next stepping stone in her career.

But after moving to Loughborough University – where she is currently a second year human biology student – the T44 sprinter and long jumper insists the support of GVC and SportsAid is crucial to making sure she is suitably equipped to performance at her best on the track.

“At home my parents can drive me to competitions and support me financially, but stepping out on your own means you have to rely on yourself for everything,” said Taylor, one of 50 beneficiaries of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.

“Financially, the support takes a huge weight off my shoulders. It enables me to do my sport, to do my competitions, and to book a hotel the night before so that I can perform at my best. It’s the little things a lot of the time but they add up to make a big difference.

“It’s an expensive lifestyle and having the resources to compete is so important. As I’m entering more competitions the travel costs are increasing all the time, so it’s such a relief to know I have the backing of the programme and I’m hugely grateful.”

As well as funding for training, travel and equipment, athletes on the SportsAid programme receive valuable mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

Besides the financial help, Taylor is in no doubt of the wide-ranging psychological benefits of the scheme, explaining how the knowledge of the backing from GVC and SportsAid has motivated her to keep climbing towards the top of the sport.

She said: “Knowing people outside of my personal bubble believe in me and can see my potential is a huge confidence boost, and something I find really exciting.

“There’s always a personal touch added to it as well. I’ve received good luck and congratulations messages while I’ve been away at competitions, which shows that they really care about their athletes and does make you smile.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Kirsty Taylor

Para-Athletics star Kirsty Taylor believes the financial support of GVC...

Lily Abbott

Lily Abbott says the financial support of GVC Holdings and SportsAid was a watershed moment in her rowing career.

The 18-year-old is a recent recipient of a SportsAid grant and is relishing life on the big stage, having competed for Great Britain at the prestigious Coupe de la Jeunesse.

Rowing can be an expensive sport to sustain and Abbott admits the injection of GVC and SportsAid support came at the perfect time.

“SportsAid and GVC’s funding will really help with paying for race entry fees, which are extremely expensive in this sport!” said Abbott, one of 50 beneficiaries of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.

“Sometimes you have to pay up to £50 just to enter a race, never mind the travel of getting there, food and accommodation.

“Having money that is literally put aside to my sport is so helpful – just having it separate and knowing that it’s there is really reassuring.”

Supported by Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson, GVC announced a three-year partnership with SportsAid in 2019 to help young athletes realise their potential and promote grassroots sport.

The investment will provide funding for training, travel and equipment and allow athletes access to mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

GVC and SportsAid’s financial support is supplemented by the confidence boost it provides athletes – and Abbott says that psychological impact is palpable every day.

“To know that I’ve got people backing me is a really amazing feeling,” added Abbott, who is treading the same pathway as Sir Mo Farah, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE in receiving SportsAid support.

“I’m very grateful for it and it takes a lot of the stress away, while it feels amazing to follow in the footsteps, be on the same path as and be associated with some top athletes – that’s really cool.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Lily Abbott

Lily Abbott says the financial support of GVC Holdings and...

Louisa Scott

Fighting her way back on to the international scene, softball star Louisa Scott insists the financial support of GVC Holdings and SportsAid is crucial to keeping her dream alive.

The 26-year-old – from Hounslow – is a recent recipient of the award, with the two bodies having partnered up in a three-year agreement in 2019, aiming to help young athletes across the UK realise their potential.

Scott was part of the GB setup between the ages of 13 and 18, but having taken time away from the sport while studying for a sports science degree – and later for a PGCE – at the University of Brighton, she is now hungry to make her way in the senior ranks.

While she juggles her playing commitments in the Netherlands with her career as head of year 7, 9 and 10 at Twickenham School, the Hounslow-based athlete admits none of it would be possible without the programme’s support.

“The money makes a world of difference, especially in a sport like softball that is generally self-funded but that actually costs a lot to commit to,” said Scott, one of 50 beneficiaries of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.

“The equipment is expensive but it lasts, so most of the money I receive goes on travel. One of our national centres is in Coventry which is a two-hour journey for me, so it means I’m able to pay for the petrol and accommodation

“There’s also regular flying to the Netherlands to consider – which is crucial to my development – so I’m really grateful for the backing from SportsAid and GVC and I don’t think it’d be possible without them.”

As well as funding for training, travel and equipment, athletes on the SportsAid programme receive valuable mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

Besides the monetary value of the programme, Scott is confident the support of GVC and SportsAid acts as a significant psychological boost, as she looks to return to international competition and increase the exposure of softball in the UK.

She said: “When I came back to softball after a few years out I think my confidence was shattered, but knowing that SportsAid believed in me was a huge boost, and it really drove me forward and motivated me.

“I’ve found the networking events very useful during my time on the programme, too. It’s always useful to hear how other athletes deal with similar problems to yourself, and hopefully I can continue to feed off that support into the future.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Louisa Scott

Fighting her way back on to the international scene, softball...

Louise Evans

Olympic  hopeful Louise Evans is hoping to replicate the exploits of clubmate Dina Asher-Smith with the help of funding from GVC Holdings and SportsAid.

Asher-Smith came through at Blackheath & Bromley Harriers, where 400m prospect Evans now trains under the tutelage of Linford Christie in combination with her studies at Brunel University.

And the journey of Britain’s current sprint sensation – one of a vast number of SportsAid alumni to have become a British sporting icon, alongside the likes of Sir Mo Farah and Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill – acts as further motivation for Evans in her quest to reach the top.

“It’s an honour to have the same funding as those names and I hope to follow in their footsteps,” said the 19-year-old, who hails from Aylesham in Kent.

“I really enjoyed seeing Dina Asher-Smith come through. We run for the same club and she’s from the same area so to see someone having success on the world stage is really inspiring.”

Lockdown wiped out the spring and summer competitions on Evans’ radar but funding from GVC, which helps cover training, travel and equipment, allowed her to keep training and ensured she was ready to hit the ground running upon her return to the track.

“It is a massive help,” she said.

“It helps us with treatment for injury prevention, like massages and physio, and this year alone the funding helped me with the weights I needed to train from home.

“If we ever have anything like lockdown in the future, I’m prepared now and I have a set-up at home.”

The initiative was launched in 2019 with the support of Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson and it was a successful year for Evans, who won a European Under-20 Championship gold in the 4x400m relay and an individual silver in the British Under-20 Athletics Championships.

Lockdown has meant a shift in focus to 2021, which the former Sandwich Technology School student is eager to crack into.

“I have moved up an age group now and the European Under-23s is next year,” Evans said.

“I came seventh in the (Under-20) final last year, which was disappointing and made me want more from myself. Hopefully I can get a medal or at least place high in the final. It’s an Olympic year so I’ll set my expectations really high and see how it goes.

“I allow myself to dream big because once it’s there you can aim for it. If you fall short, so be it but if you have that dream there you will keep fighting for it.

“Ultimately, I would like to make the Olympics as an individual and win Olympic, World and Commonwealth medals. That’s a big dream of mine.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Louise Evans

Olympic  hopeful Louise Evans is hoping to replicate the exploits...

Marcus Harrison

Few sportsmen can call themselves a three-time league winner and European champion by the age of 22.

Marcus Harrison is one of the few who can, however, and the Powerchair Football star is hoping financial support from GVC Holdings and SportsAid can help him achieve even more success.

Harrison is among the latest crop of 50 sportspeople to be supported by the programme, which is part of GVC’s Pitching In campaign and was launched in 2019 with the support of Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson.

Athletes receive funding for training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

Harrison travels from his home in Liverpool to represent his club side, West Bromwich Albion, and the programme will help him continue to do so as well as providing other benefits.

“It is great to be a part of,” said Harrison, who was born with congenital muscular dystrophy.

“It’s quite an expensive sport to play, for myself at least, with petrol and hotels. Going to West Brom every Tuesday costs £30 in petrol and we have to stay all over the country.

“It adds up over a season but the GVC money will help me not have to worry about it.”

SportsAid programmes have helped support a vast array of British sporting heroes, including Jessica Ennis-Hill and Sam Peaty MBE, and Harrison is delighted to see his name in that company.

“They have been on it and gone on to achieve great things, so hopefully I can do the same in my sport,” said Harrison, who has already won plenty in the game.

As well as helping West Brom to three successive National League titles, Harrison has represented England in a World Cup and two European Championships since his first international call-up in 2013.

At the most recent Euros, which took place last year, he scored twice in the final 10 minutes to help England come from 2-0 down to earn a draw against world champions France before scoring the winning penalty in the shootout.

“In the lead-up to it, the thought of taking one was keeping me awake at night,” said Harrison, who was also the tournament’s top goal scorer.

“But in the moment, going up, I knew I was going to score. I was confident and didn’t feel nervous.”

Harrison credits Powerchair Football for “completely changing my life”, building his confidence at school (Broadgreen International School) and University, where he studied Science and Football at Liverpool John Moores.

“There are not many disability team sports you can play as a wheelchair user,” Harrison said.

“It’s fast and exciting – I would definitely urge people to get involved.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Marcus Harrison

Few sportsmen can call themselves a three-time league winner and...

Martha Taylor

Having moved away from home for the first time, young hockey star Martha Taylor believes the financial support of GVC Holdings and SportsAid could be crucial in her bid to reach the top.

The 18-year-old is a recent recipient of the award, with the two bodies having partnered up in a three-year agreement in 2019, aiming to help young athletes across the UK realise their potential.

Taylor recently enrolled on a geography degree at the University of Exeter, where she hopes to continue her development on the hockey pitch, and eventually emulate Great Britain’s Rio 2016 gold medallists.

The next step on her journey concerns progression from England U18s to Great Britain U23s, and Taylor insists funding from GVC and SportsAid will give her the best chance of achieving her own Olympic dream.

“There are huge costs associated with playing elite sport – in terms of travel, kit, medical fees and everything else – so it will be a massive help, especially now I’m at university,” said Taylor, one of 50 beneficiaries of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.

“My parents are still supporting me, but it allows me to take a bit more care of myself which is really helpful. It’s going to play a big part in keeping me at the level I need to be at while they’re not there.

“I’m so grateful for their support and it’s a big boost to know you’ve got these bodies behind you. Knowing that GVC and SportsAid believe in me is huge for my confidence and makes a really big difference.”

As well as funding for training, travel and equipment, athletes on the SportsAid programme receive valuable mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

While still relatively new to the programme, Taylor is excited about the wide-ranging benefits offered by GVC and SportsAid, and is vying to add her name to the illustrious list of alumni who have gone on to become global stars.

She said: “During lockdown I’ve been able to engage with some of the online workshops that SportsAid have delivered, which I think are really valuable. It’s amazing how much you can learn by connecting with athletes from different sports and hearing how they approach things differently.

“When I saw the list of athletes who have been supported by SportsAid in the past I was amazed. It’s a huge honour to be able to associate myself with the likes of Jessica Ennis-Hill – who was one of my heroes growing up – and hopefully I can share some of their success, too.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Martha Taylor

Having moved away from home for the first time, young...

Michael Farmer

Weightlifting prospect Michael Farmer has hailed SportsAid backing as a key factor in keeping him motivated to train hard during lockdown.

Farmer is among the beneficiaries of a three-year partnership between SportsAid and GVC Holdings, part of Pitching In, which helps young athletes fulfil their potential by contributing funding towards training, travel and equipment.

And when lockdown wiped his calendar free of competitions, the 21-year-old from Caerphilly admitted that support was crucial in maintaining his desire.

“I had funding from GVC last year too and I got a silver medal in the Commonwealth Championships in Samoa,” Farmer said.

“I was on a real high from last year but then we got to March and everything shut down.

“The financial incentive from having SportsAid’s backing is something which has helped keep me and a number of athletes I know going.

“There’s people relying on us and backing us and we know our worth because people want to help us. In that sense, it is definitely a motivator.”

Farmer also credited the initiative, which was launched in 2019 by Baroness Grey-Thompson, with helping him balance training and education – he has just begun a Masters in Environmental Management at Bangor University.

“I have to get up early, go and do my squats, do a full day in Uni, then go and train again in the evening,” he said.

“I enjoy the challenge but it is tough and it does help through organisations like SportsAid and GVC – without that funding it’s hard to stay on top of travel and training.

“It’s a lot of little things that add up, especially in the course of a training year. My training costs are quite a lot of money, as are my coaching fees – a lot goes into it.”

A medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham is Farmer’s big ambition and he takes heart from being among the array of Team GB stars to have received SportsAid support in the past, including Sir Mo Farah and Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill.

“It’s very motivating to see your name as part of this elite group,” Farmer said.

“For an organisation like SportsAid, who have supported some of the very best, to be supporting me feels very special.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Michael Farmer

Weightlifting prospect Michael Farmer has hailed SportsAid backing as a...

Milly Kellyman

Skeleton star Milly Kellyman is relishing the chance to follow in big footsteps after being selected to receive funding from GVC Holdings and SportsAid.

The 27-year-old is a beneficiary of GVC’s three-year partnership with the sports charity, helping young talent across the UK realise their potential.

Athletes get funding for training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

Kellyman hadn’t even heard of skeleton before taking up the sport but is making up for lost time having reached the Great Britain Talent Squad.

“It’s a massive compliment. I didn’t have the structure and support beyond my family when I was doing athletics, so it’s really nice to have this in place,” said Kellyman, who graduated with a Child and Youth Studies degree from Derby University in 2015.

“Having that belief from someone else, who has seen what you can do and backs you to go even further, is a really nice compliment and massively reassuring.

“The funding is going towards general living. A lot of our training costs, including when we go away, are sorted, but you still have to make sure you live properly and give yourself as much opportunity as possible to focus on your sport.

“It’s already made a really big difference and I’m sure that will continue over the coming months.

“The SportsAid alumni are amazing, there are some big shoes to fill! The unity really ties in with my values, everyone coming together for events and to share their ideas and experiences, it’s really amazing to be a part of.”

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

The initiative is part of GVC’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

And for Kellyman, who first got into skeleton when trialling in 2016 through the Discover Your Gold programme, having the backing to compete in what is still a new sport is providing her plenty of reassurance.

“I always felt I had more to give in sport after starting in athletics. After the 2016 Olympics, there was an advertisement for the Discover Your Gold programme, and that’s how I got involved in skeleton.

“I went along, had no idea what it was about and did a quick Google before getting involved.

“I saw it was a bit dangerous but I thought, if they’ve seen something in me, then I ought to give it a go. And I’ve not stopped ever since!”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Milly Kellyman

Skeleton star Milly Kellyman is relishing the chance to follow...

Niall Treacy

Short track speed skating star Niall Treacy believes the financial support of GVC Holdings and SportsAid could prove the difference in helping him achieving his Olympic ambitions.

The 20-year-old has been a recipient of SportsAid support for a large part of his short career, and the charity launched a three-year partnership with GVC in 2019, aiming to help young athletes across the UK realise their potential.

Treacy – from Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire – is currently enjoying the transition into the senior international ranks, and was robbed of the opportunity to compete at his first senior World Championships earlier this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Having seen older brother Farrell represent Great Britain at PyeongChang 2018, Treacy is determined to follow in his sibling’s footsteps, and believes crucial financial backing could open doors for him in a sport that sits largely away from the limelight in the UK.

“The financial help provided by this partnership is massive for me as a speed skater, because the sport lost its UK Sport funding after the last Olympics,” said Treacy, one of 50 beneficiaries of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.

“Everyone was left on their own, so to get this help feels like someone is still backing me and still believes. It’s instrumental in helping us go to that extra competition or train that extra day, so it’s massively appreciated.

“Those extra races and experiences all add up and ultimately it could be the difference between what I can achieve in the sport. To not receive the financial support would make realising my ambitions so much harder.”

As well as funding for training, travel and equipment, athletes on the SportsAid programme receive valuable mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

Besides the crucial financial support that SportsAid provides, Treacy is familiar with all of the wide-ranging benefits of the programme and is confident he has all the tools to add his name to the illustrious list of alumni that have reached the top of their game.

He said: “I’ve had the chance to go and meet other athletes of a similar age in all different sports – I remember talking to pole-vaulters and weightlifters – and discussing training and learning different things from them, and it was really valuable to hear what they were doing differently to you.

“I remember being shown Jessica Ennis-Hill’s application for SportsAid funding years ago, so to say you’re in the same group as people like her is amazing. It’s a confidence boost and shows they have great faith in your ability as an athlete.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Niall Treacy

Short track speed skating star Niall Treacy believes the financial...

Owen Chaplin

Rugby star Owen Chaplin believes GVC Holdings and SportsAid’s support will make him a more well-rounded individual.

Chaplin, 18, is currently training for Newcastle Falcons and has also earned international recognition as third choice hooker for Ireland Under-18s.

GVC and SportsAid’s funding is fuelling his rise but he believes insight on broader aspects of life are just as important as events on the field.

“Everything SportsAid and GVC do is teaching you to work in a professional environment,” said Chaplin, one of 50 beneficiaries of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.

“Even what I’m doing now, an interview, they teach you about that and if I was to progress, it’s really helpful.

“It’s massively important that SportsAid teach you about all different areas of becoming a well-rounded athlete if you want to progress.”

Supported by Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson, GVC announced a three-year partnership with SportsAid last year to help young athletes realise their potential and promote grassroots sport.

The investment will provide funding for training, travel and equipment and allow athletes access to mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

Financial support is supplemented by a confidence boost for athletes and Chaplin hopes the all-encompassing benefits of the partnership can take him to the top.

“The funding helps with travel and basic things as well – it’s quite expensive with the long trips down south to play rugby,” added Chaplin, who is treading the same SportsAid pathway as current stars Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

“Of course, it also gave me a confidence boost – you get a nice feeling when you discover that someone appreciates you and wants to invest in you.

“It’s great to follow in the footsteps of SportsAid’s alumni and it’s a big achievement for me.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Owen Chaplin

Rugby star Owen Chaplin believes GVC Holdings and SportsAid’s support...

Ross Davidson

Ross Davidson says GVC Holdings and SportsAid’s funding is maximising his training and catapulting him towards the Commonwealth Games.

The Carrickfergus wheelchair basketball star had his right leg amputated after a motorcycle crash but is hellbent on getting to Birmingham 2022.

He currently plays for Sheffield Steelers but works closely with top coach Phil Robinson back in Northern Ireland, who is guiding his pursuit of the tournament with the clock to the Games ticking.

Davidson is planning on using GVC and SportsAid’s support to divide his time between Sheffield and home – and reckons a jam-packed training schedule can be a recipe for success.

“To be able to train as much as I can, I’m considering living between Sheffield and Northern Ireland and travelling back and forward,” said Davidson, one of 50 athletes financially supported by a three-year partnership between GVC Holdings and SportsAid as part of GVC’s Pitching In initiative.

“The SportsAid and GVC money may go towards flights in order to maximise my training so I can get coaching here and back home.

“It would just bring up my frequency of training – me being able to fly back home once every two weeks, or hopefully every week if I can afford it, would mean I could get those extra sessions in with Phil as much as possible.”

Supported by Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson, GVC announced a three-year partnership with SportsAid in 2019 to help young athletes realise their potential and promote grassroots sport.

The investment will provide funding for training, travel and equipment and allow athletes access to mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

GVC and SportsAid’s financial assistance is bolstered by a morale boost for future stars – and Davidson says that psychological impact is pivotal.

“When people have your back and see potential in you, that makes you feel really good about yourself,” added Davidson, who is treading the same SportsAid pathway as ParalympicsGB stars Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE.

“You forget that people are there for you, watching you and supporting you and you don’t even know it, so it’s brilliant.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Ross Davidson

Ross Davidson says GVC Holdings and SportsAid’s funding is maximising...

Ross Paterson

Rising para-athletics star Ross Paterson says SportsAid funding has given him a much-needed boost in confidence.

The 22-year-old is a beneficiary of GVC Holdings’ three-year partnership with SportsAid, helping young athletes across the UK realise their potential.

Athletes get funding for training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

Marshall, who was crowned English champion in the under 69kg weight category in March, says the funding is a godsend and helps her travel to London for training camps.

“SportsAid funding has been incredible for me, it’s helped me massively,” said the Paisley-born runner.

“I was a very shy boy growing up and knowing I’m on the same programme as Olympic and Paralympic champions is a huge confidence boost.

“They’ve helped make me into the athlete that I am today and they’ve given me the confidence to be myself and show the world who I am on the track.”

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

The initiative is part of GVC’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

“Funding helped me buy a new set of spikes and running shoes,” Paterson said.

“I can’t wait to get going again and the support SportsAid give you makes you want to pay them back with success.

“I can’t speak highly enough of how they’ve worked with us during lockdown, always checking in and giving us challenges to do at home.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Ross Paterson

Rising para-athletics star Ross Paterson says SportsAid funding has given...

Ruth Mwandumba

Rising shooting star Ruth Mwandumba says SportsAid funding has literally got her moving again this year and helped her afford to buy a car.

The 25-year-old is a beneficiary of GVC Holdings’ three-year partnership with SportsAid, helping young athletes across the UK realise their potential.

Athletes get funding for training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

Mwandumba has been studying, working and competing in recent years and says SportsAid funding has helped her seize opportunities.

“It’s never been easy because there are a lot of international competitions and you have to self-fund,” says the Liverpool-born star.

“In the past I had to be selective about competitions I’d attend for financial reasons, but since receiving SportsAid funding it’s stopped me having to worry about that.

“I’ve been able to continue working and not need to work overtime to earn more money to compete overseas. It’s been a massive help.”

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

The initiative is part of GVC’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

Mwandumba feels SportsAid has given her a timely confidence boost as she targets the 2022 Commonwealth Games and the 2024 Olympics.

“SportsAid funding takes a massive weight off the shoulders and it’s always a helpful contribution towards the costs,” she said.

“Receiving a grant, it makes you feel good about yourself, that there are people who believe in you and your abilities.

“It’s one thing hearing it from friends, family and coaches but to have an outside organisation.

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Ruth Mwandumba

Rising shooting star Ruth Mwandumba says SportsAid funding has literally...

Sam Heppenstall-Batty

Having sampled his first taste of international competition shortly before lockdown hit, taekwondo prospect Sam Heppenstall-Batty is hoping funding from GVC Holdings and SportsAid will allow him to continue taking part in such events when they resume.

The 19-year-old described March’s Dutch Open as a “really good experience”, but things then went from one extreme to the other as sport – and much of daily life as we know it – shut down.

Unable to train, Heppenstall-Batty used running as a way of keeping his fitness up in the months that followed and has been gradually getting back to sparring, doing as much as regulations allow.

The Halifax prospect is eager to get back to competing and those aims have been aided by support from GVC and SportsAid.

Launched in 2019 with the support Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson, GVC’s three-year partnership with SportsAid helps young athletes across the UK each year realise their potential.

Athletes get funding for training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

“It is amazing to be part of it,” said Heppenstall-Batty.

“International competitions are only a weekend away but it’s a lot of money – four or five hundred pounds each time.

“The more funding I have, the more competitions I can go to and the more experience I’ll gain, so it will be amazing to be able to do more of them when they are up and running.

“I want to prove to Team GB that I can do it at international level so it’s a big incentive.”

The initiative is part of GVC’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

The young athletes on the programme are following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah and Dame Sarah Storey – as well as taekwondo world champion Bradly Sinden, who has acted as inspiration to Heppenstall-Batty.

“It is surreal to see my name among some of the SportsAid alumni but I have to take it in my stride,” he said.

“I have trained with some of the GB team and it is a real confidence boost. It’s definitely scary but it’s satisfying not to feel out of place. It shows me where I’m at in relation to where I want to go.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Sam Heppenstall-Batty

Having sampled his first taste of international competition shortly before...

Sam Smith

With so many hidden costs associated with powerchair football, Wylam’s Sam Smith insists his World Cup ambitions wouldn’t be possible without the financial support of GVC Holdings and SportsAid.

The 21-year-old is a recent recipient of the award, with the two bodies having partnered up in a three-year agreement in 2019, aiming to help young athletes across the UK realise their potential.

Having made his England debut at the 2017 World Cup in Florida en route to the team’s third-place finish, Smith – a third year journalism student at Newcastle University – is hoping the Three Lions can emulate last year’s European success on the global stage in Sydney, in 2022.

But with the whole team reliant on specialist equipment and carers – among other financial constraints – the Northern Thunder star is hugely grateful for the programme’s backing.

“The funding I receive enables me to be as good as I can be in the sport,” said Smith, one of 50 beneficiaries of GVC’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.

“All of us in the team require the help of a carer, so there’s always their travel and accommodation costs to consider, as well as everyone actually on the team.

“The support also allows me to make sure my equipment is at the standard it needs to be, and that it is maintained. It’ll also help me train individually when the lockdown eases – whether that’s renting a hall or travelling to a training camp – and I don’t think it’d be possible to continue at my current level without it.”

As well as funding for training, travel and equipment, athletes on the SportsAid programme receive valuable mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

Besides the financial help, Smith recognises the wide-ranging psychological benefits of the scheme, which have helped fuel his focus on establishing himself as an integral player for the national side in their quest for world domination.

He said: “It’s been a long road so having someone outside your immediate bubble telling you they believe in you definitely helps with your confidence on and off the pitch.

“Knowing you have their support also removes the headache of worrying about how you’re going to fund everything associated with your sport. I’m able to focus on my game and reach my potential.

“I was on the fringes of the team that won the Nations Cup in 2019, and now I’m determined to play a bit part in our World Cup efforts in two years’ time. Support from SportsAid and GVC will play a big part in allowing me to do that.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Sam Smith

With so many hidden costs associated with powerchair football, Wylam’s...

Seth O’Connor

Rising rowing star Seth O’Connor says SportsAid funding came at the perfect time as he tried to maintain momentum during lockdown.

The 18-year-old is a beneficiary of GVC Holdings’ three-year partnership with SportsAid helping young athletes across the UK realise their potential.

Lockdown prevented O’Connor from training with team-mates at Henley Rowing Club and while he was able to resume solo work in July, he still needed to stay in shape.

That’s where SportsAid funding came in – he was able to source weights and home workout equipment that was invaluable to following British Rowing’s rigorous regime.

“For me, it was really fortunate that receiving SportsAid funding coincided with lockdown,” said O’Connor, who is targeting the 2028 Olympic Games.

“I was able to buy equipment and weights after we got funding in June and I was really lucky I could carry on training at home.

“There wasn’t as much stress as there could have been and a lot of people I know couldn’t afford to buy the weights to keep training.

“The transition back to proper training has been far easier for me than some of my friends.

“It gets pretty stale just sitting on an erg machine, doing lots of core or going on a run.

“I was able to switch up my training and do some strength and conditioning work which was really helpful.”

O’Connor following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah and Ellie Simmonds OBE, all of whom received SportsAid support.

The initiative is part of GVC’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

O’Connor, who represented Britain at the World Junior Championships in 2019, valued SportsAid’s backing at a difficult time in his young career.

He said: “It wasn’t just about the financial support, it boosts your confidence to have the backing of an organisation like SportsAid.

“As athletes you get your confidence from competing and winning and training hard, and we didn’t have that during lockdown, so it was a big source of belief.

“When you have someone investing in your future, it’s a nice feeling.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Seth O’Connor

Rising rowing star Seth O’Connor says SportsAid funding came at...

Will Jones

Wandsworth badminton player Will Jones is looking to build on a wealth of experience he has already gained after being granted GVC Holdings and SportsAid funding for a second successive year.

The 19-year-old is a beneficiary of GVC’s three-year partnership with the sports charity, helping young talent across the UK realise their potential.

Athletes get funding for training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

Jones’ first year on the programme was certainly a productive one having taken part in a SportsAid workshop with his fellow supported athletes. at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London

“I’m really grateful for the continued support of GVC and SportsAid,” said Jones.

“The travel costs, accommodation and the entry fees all add up really quickly so the funding is going to make a big difference.

“You don’t realise the cost of things when you’re younger, and all of a sudden when you have to start paying for things, there’s an extra appreciation for parents.

“The workshop last year was really enlightening, seeing other people in their sport and learning how they deal with things was really insightful.

“We all seem to be in the same boat, we’re all pushing for spots in the senior team so it was really good.”

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

The initiative is part of GVC’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

And for Jones, having the support of other people in the sporting arena is providing a major boost in confidence.

“It gets you motivated that someone believes in you, you’re not just a lone ranger and it inspires you to keep pushing and putting in that hard work,” he added.

“I’ve played badminton since I was eight or nine. I wasn’t that into it when I was that young.

“My dad played, he took my sister and I down for a couple of sessions and we’ve enjoyed it ever since.

“We were quite competitive. My sister is six years older than me and was stronger than me, so that actually really helped me progress and she pushed me along to get better.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Will Jones

Wandsworth badminton player Will Jones is looking to build on...

Will Prentice

Rising hockey star Will Prentice says SportsAid funding will help him take advantage of global opportunities as he progresses in the sport.

The 18-year-old is a beneficiary of GVC Holdings’ three-year partnership with SportsAid, helping young athletes across the UK realise their potential.

Athletes get funding for training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

Prentice, who plays for England at under-18 level, is increasingly getting the chance to play in Europe and beyond and feels the funding is helping him seize those.

“Getting SportsAid funding is massive,” says the Bath-born star.

“It enables me to just focus on playing hockey rather than worrying about the cost of trips to Russia, Belgium, Holland or wherever we happen to be playing.

“Hockey is an expensive sport and equipment has to be replaced really regularly so the money is invaluable in making sure I have the stuff I need.”

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

The initiative is part of GVC’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

Prentice feels privileged to follow in the footsteps of Olympic champions and with his own targets for the 2024 Games, is inspired to greater heights by being part of SportsAid.

“It’s a big honour to be part of the programme,” he said.

“The number of people who’d love to be in my position is countless.

“I know people are supporting me and to know that they think I’m an interesting character who can possibly make it all the way is nice.

“It’s really lovely to have a bit of backing as a young athlete.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.

Will Prentice

Rising hockey star Will Prentice says SportsAid funding will help...